Mapping Out History

The best global histories will have some of the local in them, and vice versa. It’s a challenge to make room for these nested spheres given the constraints of researching and storytelling, not to mention the constraints of publishing. But it’s fun. There are so many ways to play with the concept of scale. It’s exciting to contemplate a literary analogue or complement to Geographic Information Systems or Google Earth. Our narrative histories can be maps of words.

— Jared Farmer, “Biography of a Landform,” American Scholar, June 2009

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